Life often reminds us that we are creatures. It’s true. We get tired, sick, hungry, and moody. We are limited in numerous ways. We are told in Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Not to paint a bleak picture, but as now-fallen-creatures, our time, our days, are numbered – they are counting down – there is no time to waste. As a creature, I complain about not having time, and then when I do have it, I waste it. I can’t get it back. It’s gone, lost to history. But what I hope to encourage us with today, in that while we feel trapped by time, it’s important to note that our triune God controls time and even redeems it!
God is Sovereign Over Everything-Including Time
Time too, is a creature. God in the beginning created all things, including time. Lyrical theologian Timothy Brindle in a song titled “The Preciousness of Time” paraphrases a quote from early 20th century Pastor and Author A.W. Tozer, saying, “Time is a creature word.”
Creatures like you and I deal with time. Time itself, being a creature. Regarding time’s being, allow me to quote Augustine in his masterful work, The City of God. He says, “The distinguishing mark between time and eternity is that the former does not exist without some movement and change, while in the latter there is no change at all.”
The Holy Trinity is outside of time, beyond time, but is free to work within it––and we shall see, that the Lord certainly does. All of creation, indeed all of time – all of history as events occurring in time – is God’s story.
History is a time-progression from one moment to the next. To look at and study history is to look at the past in light of the present and into the hopeful future. Augustine asked, “How is it that there are two times, past and future, when even the past is now no longer and the future is now not yet? But if the present were always present, and did not pass into past time, it would not be time, but eternity.”
Now only God abides in an always present “today” that we call eternity. Augustine continued, “If, then, time present – if it be time [and that’s time, not eternity; it can’t be] – comes into existence only because it passes into time past, how can we say that even this is, since the cause of its being is that it will cease to be? Thus, can we not truly say that time is only as it tends toward nonbeing?”
Now, let me try and summarize Augustine’s thoughts here. The present is only the present, presently. How long does the present last? A split-second later, it’s past. What did Rafiki say in the Lion King? Forget it, it’s in the past! Likewise, a split-second in future time is not the present. But that future second will become the present, only to quickly fade into the past. Creatureliness has an end: a Telos. Creation. Time. Us. All of history. Recall the Psalmist in verse 16, our days in the book are numbered.
You might be thinking, “Well that sure sounds like a downer!” Would it be a good time to end with a Benediction? It would be a bummer to send us away for the rest of our day there, huh? Probably not. Not yet.
Time Has A Purpose
Recall that all of history is God’s story? Okay, so there must be good news if our great God is involved. History is the story of our triune God working in creation, in time, with and through image bearers, like you and I. See, the telos entails also a goal and a purpose. This is important for creation and especially image bearers.
God the Father in the Son Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, providentially cares for all creation and even redeems creation through Christ by the Spirit, a mighty divine work of new creation. We pronounce with the Apostle Paul, “If any is in Christ: new creation!” With the Psalmist we proclaim, “Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Our triune God has gone about to do a work of re-creation. This redemptive history – including our own history – is His story. God pulls us into his story, as Michael Horton has said, and makes us actors within the grand narrative drama of God. Horton says, “Instead of God being a supporting actor in our life story, we become part of the cast that the Spirit is recruiting for God’s drama.” Stunning to think about, isn’t it? But what is the purpose or goal, the end of creation and all of time and history – our lives? The Westminster Shorter Catechism’s answer to question number 1 says, “it is to glorify and enjoy God forever!”
Can this be for creatures banished east of Eden, since creatures, including time, will expire? Well, thankfully, we have our one and only hope, to quote the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1, that even in life and in death, our only comfort is Jesus Christ. He is our Savior-King who has redeemed us. This truth provides purpose and meaning to creation, time, history, and to our lives. How we spend our time, even if we waste it – sometimes as I do – finds its redemption in Christ. Time is redeemed and every breath we take we receive more time. For this we are grateful. So all of it finds it’s yes and amen in Christ!
Jesus the Resurrected God-man tells us in Luke 24:44-48, “’These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.‘ [Luke then adds some commentary] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them [that is, Jesus], ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Let’s break down this historical event that continues to have an affect on everything – creation, time, history, our lives.
Our Lord here goes to the past, tells of what has occurred in the present––and, within the very recent past – His life, death, and resurrection––then speaks about the soon redemptive future. This is the revelation of God in real time! Just as Israel’s Exodus was experienced, so too now, Jew and Gentile both, together, have redemption in Jesus who is our Red Sea.
We see three things in our Lord’s statement:
1) God reveals: Moses-Prophets-Psalms, the OT;
2) God acts: Christ’s person and work, incarnation & all else that follows;
3) God explains the acts: Christ himself teaching, and then, quite importantly, Pentecost happens.
Reformed theologian and Dr. of Princeton, Geerhardus Vos, did some field-altering work on Biblical Theology – the theological discipline of seeing how the whole of Scripture relates and is one, cohesive revelation of God, from it’s start in early seed form, to it’s progression into a tree in full bloom. He said in this vein, “The Old Testament brings the predictive preparatory word, the Gospels record the redemptive-revelatory fact, the Epistles supply the subsequent, final interpretation.”
Here the segments of our written revelation is in view, but throughout all of this redemptive history, and per Christ’s words in Luke, the whole of it is about Him and what he has done, for you, and for me. The One which all of history, time, and revelation speaks, now get this––the Holy Spirit unites us to! God has brought us, the redeemed, into his story. And Jesus says to all of us, actors in his story, “You are witnesses of these things.“
So in a hurting world desperate to hear this good news, there is no time to lose! God help us to redeem the time we have. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end; Amen.